Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Week of Firsts

Anyone who knows our family knows that we are not naturally early risers, as a rule. When the first day of kindergarten rolled around on August 27, we were collectively shocked by the experience of getting up at 6:15 am. I'm getting more used to it now, but it is a constant battle to get the kids and us to bed early enough to tolerate the early wake-up call. Conveniently, Justin's work start time calls for all of us to get up and get going at the same time.

The night before school started, I packed my first lunch as a mom of school age kids. It totally felt like a rite of passage, and I think it took me half an hour. On the big morning, we got off to a good start with getting up on time. Maren even had time to feed the dogs and cats, and ride her trike around in the driveway before we left. That has turned into her morning job, that she “gets” to do if she can get up and dressed, and have eaten and brushed teeth with enough time to spare.

Justin is normally the drop-off parent, and he shares that since that first day the kids have gotten into a real routine with getting out of their cars at the front door of the school. He jokes that he has had to teach her to “drop and roll” onto the curb as he drives up, and he just keeps on rolling! Seriously, parking is a big problem at this school, but the staff have trained the parents in proper drop-off and pick-up procedures, and less than two weeks into the school year it only takes 5 minutes for him to get through the queue in the morning and 10 minutes for me in the afternoon (compared with the hour I spent each of the first three days). Once Justin and Maren leave each morning, JJ and I are free to take a few more minutes to wake up all the way.

Maren loves school. I was worried that being away for seven hours each day would leave her completely exhausted on the couch, but not so. The first day, she asked if she could go back later. She was disappointed when I said no, but then excited when she learned she could back the next day. I think she still doesn't enjoy getting up in the morning, but the promise of getting to feed the dogs helps a lot.

Another thing we learned on the first day was that each child has a classroom job each day, and each week the jobs change. We felt it was a special bonus that Maren's first job of the year was to be the zookeeper, which means she gets to feed the fish right before the end of the day.

Justin started his new job the same day Maren started school. On that first day we dropped her off together, then went out to breakfast as he was starting a little later that day. The first week he mostly did paperwork and learned the lay of the land, and got used to going to work again! Seems like this company is one that values playing together when they aren't working together, so he is looking forward to playing on ball teams for the community league, as well as having hang out time with the guys, and maybe even a few family picnics.

Jesse has done his best to keep up with the early mornings, although of course mommy would prefer for him to roll over and keep sleeping! One morning on my way to wake Maren, I discovered him on the couch, sitting all alone in the dark. Another time he met me at the door to their room. This morning was the topper on the cake, as he roused himself at 4am to be sure not to miss anything! On Friday of the first week he just couldn't take it any more, though, and snoozed right through until almost 8am. I hope that happens more often in the future.

One benefit of his early rising is that he has gotten very easy to put down for a nap. He was always easy, but now he's also ready when it's time. In fact, I would say that about one day of every three, he has started disappearing right about that time, and I or someone has found him a little later sleeping in his room. He sleeps for hours and wakes up just in time to go with me to pick up Sissy after school. I'm starting to fear that any other children I might have would just be a disappointment—he is nearly the perfect child in so many ways!

The regular afternoon naps have been great for me, as well. I can look forward to at least two hours of quiet each afternoon to work on my computer, while still having lots of time in the morning to give him time, as well as do laundry, cleaning, weeding, and whatever else needs to be done around here. My favorite job so far has been to take over cleaning of the pool. I find the most amazing array of wildlife in the skimmer baskets each morning, and sometimes the frogs and whatnot are still alive!

So we are all surviving our firsts: Maren off to school, Justin starting his new job, me being a parent of school-age kids, and Jesse being an only child 35 hours a week. I am sure we will come up with a new project soon enough, but for now I feel like we have a workable routine.

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